Chiricahua National Monument Travel Guide

  • Chiricahua National Monument
    by kop-queen
  • Chiricahua National Monument
    by kop-queen
  • Chiricahua National Monument
    by kop-queen

Chiricahua National Monument Things to Do

  • ROCK PANCAKES

    The thought behind the formation of these rock spires is that volcanic ash spewed out first, cooling into a 2000 foot deep layer of dark colored rhyolite. Erosion - water, wind and ice - then sculpted the formations into what you now see.Look at the formations from the car off Bonita Creek Drive, from Massai Point or better, take the Heart of Rocks...

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  • MASSAI POINT

    From the Visitor Center, the Bonita Canyon Drive winds 8 miles up to dead ened at this point, 6879 ft/2094 m high. From here trails take off, exhibits explain and you overlook the Land of the Standing-Up Rocks.

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  • TELESCOPES

    You can peer through spotting scopes at Massai Point towards the different sights within the rock formations, the Monument or the surrounding region. Sugarloaf Mountain and Cochise Head is off to the north. An early homesteading couple turned their ranch into a guestranch and used to take guests on rides and walks up into what they coined as the...

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  • Allow time to take a hike

    We only had time to drive to the top and wander around for 20 minutes as we arrived far too late in the day. Ideally had we been there a couple of hours earlier the light would have created much better shadows. We passed many signs for different trails and I imagine it would have been a lot of fun to hike some of them.There is a small visitor...

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  • Faraway Ranch Historic District

    Neil and Emma Erickson, Swedish immigrants, settled in Bonita Canyon in the late 1880s. Their homestead is now a National Historic District and the appropriately named Faraway Ranch is the main feature. It is charming and it's nice to stroll the grounds on your own or do a tour of the house proper at set times.

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  • a rattlesnake for lunch

    Reptiles are also pretty prolific here in Chiricahua with over 30 varieties of snakes alone. We saw a rattlesnake late afternoon as we sat picnicking close to the Visitor Center and caught this very pretty Mountain spiny lizard while out on the trails.

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  • claret cup hedgehog cactus

    Due to an incredible biogeographical diversity where four regions come together, there are over 1000 variety of plants ranging from oaks to cacti. It makes for great camping and picnicking unlike many other Southwest parks where the sun's intensity and lack of shade make for less than ideal lingering.

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  • the one-eyed ring-tailed cat

    Chiricahua is home to a variety of mammals ranging from black bears to an evidently rare and illusive small number of jaguars. They are rarely spotted and we were not so lucky but we did see the very common white tailed deer at dusk and normally nocturnal ring-tailed cat who happened to have lost one of his eyes. It was probably the injury that...

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  • Mexican Jay

    Evidently, Chiricahua is a birder's paradise with 13 species of hummingbirds alone found within its borders, many of a Mexican origin so rarely seen elsewhere in the United States. We unfortunately were there for a brief period so didn't get to see even a fraction of the recorded 200 different species found in the park. We did see our first Mexican...

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  • over 20 miles of trails

    If you have more time and are up to it, there are over 20 miles of trails that get you deeper into the amazing rock formations. The distances are relatively short but there is a lot of up and down so pick your trail according to your fitness level and experience. There are quite a few to chose from and they are set up so that you can add one trail...

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  • Massai Nature Trail & Bonita Canyon...

    The average visitor to Chiricahua National Monument will be content with doing the very scenic Bonita Canyon Drive and taking in the incredible views at Massai at the road's culmination. At the very least, you should do the very short but equally pretty Massai Nature Trail to get a feeling for walking amongst the pinnacles. It's quite awe inspiring...

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  • it's all about the spires

    The magnificent rock pinnacles of Chiricahua have their origin in an incredibly large volcanic eruption 27 million years ago which spread 2000 feet of pumice and ash forming rhyolitic tuff in time. Over an extended time, erosion formed the resulting spires that make this area so awe inspiring.

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Chiricahua National Monument Restaurants

  • A Great Mexican Restaurant

    Salsa Fiesta is a wonderful small local Mexican restaurant located in Wilcox. We both had a tamale and a Chili Rellano. The tamale was very good, and the Chili Rellano was the best I have ever had! The anahime chili it was made with was so mild and flavorful, the batter around the chili was delightfully light. I wish I could get these in Cody....

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  • Bring Your Own or Drive to Willcox

    For food, you have two choices. Bring your own or drive about 36 miles to Willcox (Willcox is worth a visit anyway). If you go to Willcox try the Plaza Restaurant or Rodney's. Both are on my Willcox page.

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  • No food unless eating in Willcox

    Bring your food to the park unless you want to take a couple hours out of your day to go back to Willcox. The food in Willcox looked to be diner fare with either a tex-mex or barbecue flair. The park sells water and a little more at the visitor center. We brought some lunchable type meals and some crackers and good energy hiking food.

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Chiricahua National Monument Transportation

  • a great stopover

    Chiricahua National monument is located 120 miles east of Tucson. Exit Interstate 10 at Willcox, and follow Arizona Route 186, 36 miles south to the Monument. There is a $5 per person charge to enter the park but the America The Beautiful Pass is good for all National Park and Federally regulated Lands for a period of one year for $80 and is good...

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  • A Car is Needed

    To get to Chiricahua you will need your own car. From highway I-10 exit at Willcox, then follow State Route 186 36 miles to the monument. There is no gasoline available in or near the monument, so be sure that you fill up your gas tank in Willcox before heading out highway 186 to Chiricahua. The only public transportation within the monument is the...

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  • Get your gas in Willcox

    Get your gas in Willcox. There is nothing from Willcox until Chiricahua National Monument. That is approx 35 miles to the park and another 10 once inside the park until the parking lots for hiking. The gas at the Circle K and the station across the street seemed to be the best price. There is a gas station just outside of town about 1 mile and it...

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Chiricahua National Monument Shopping

  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo

    by KimberlyAnn Updated Apr 6, 2009

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    There are no gas stations, food stores, vending machines, motels, or hotels in the monument, so be sure that you are well-supplied before arriving at Chiricahua. The small town where we purchased our supplies was Wilcox, Arizona, which lies 38 miles north of the monument. According to the monument's paper there is also a small town, Sunizona 27 miles to the south where you can also get food and gas, but we did not visit this town, so I do not know what it is like. I do know that Wilcox is the larger of the two at a population of 3,100 people. Sunizona has only has a 2,104 population, and has no lodging possibilities.

    Wilcox, AZ
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Road Trip

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Chiricahua National Monument Warnings and Dangers

  • Important Activity Rules

    No backcountry camping is allowed in Chiricahua, so all campers must camp in the Bonita Campground or the nearby national forest. Collecting Firewood and building fires outside of fire rings is not allowed. If you are a rock climber be aware that rock climbing is not allowed within the national monument. Bicycling is only allowed on the paved...

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  • Snow

    Even though the Chiricahua National Monument is in Southern Arizona, we do get snow here. Watch your step when there is ice and snow on the trail.

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  • General Warnings

    There are signs at most trailheads in the Chiricahuas giving general warnings about: Dangerous animals in the area like cougars, black bears, and rattlesnakes; dangerous cliffs; so stay on the designated trails; wear proper clothing for the time of year especially good walking shoes; drink lots of water (this is important in both hot and cold...

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Chiricahua National Monument What to Pack

  • TinKan's Profile Photo

    by TinKan Written May 29, 2005

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    Luggage and bags: A good sturdy backpack but light for all of the hiking.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: A very good pair of hiking shoes are a must if you are going to hike some of the best marked trails in AZ.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: A small first aid kit for hiking and a bigger one in the car.
    TP is a good idea as some of the bathrooms are out at times.

    Photo Equipment: Digital camera and loads of memory sticks. You will need them.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: In parts of the year a good light weight coat that is water proof is a good idea.

    Miscellaneous: PLEASE bring water and do not forget to fill up with gas as there are no gas stations close. Also remember to save some gas in the tank for the ride out of the park.

    AWESOME
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Backpacking

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Chiricahua National Monument Off The Beaten Path

  • Trail To the Fort Bowie National...

    This example of an Apache Wickup Camp may be seen along the 1.5-mile trail to the ruins of Fort Bowie. From the early 1400s this area of Arizona was the home of the Chiricahua Apaches. They were a nomadic people, hunting large game and gathering edible plants. The Apache people were feared by neighboring tribes as they were excellent warriors....

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  • Fort Bowie Ruins and Visitor Center

    When I state that Fort Bowie preserve the remains, or describes them as ruins, that is what they are. There are no complete buildings remaining of the original fort as the photo shows. The only complete building is the visitor center that has been built nearby the ruins. Here there is an excellent small display that will help you to understand the...

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  • Fort Bowie National Historic Site

    The ruins of Ft. Bowie, located in the 5,000 foot Aache Pass preserves the remains of a military fort. This Fort was active during the wars between the Chiricahua Apache Indians and the Americans who were expanding westward. The fort was the central point of military operations, which in 1886 ended with the surrender of Geronimo, the most famous of...

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Chiricahua National Monument Sports & Outdoors

  • Inspiration Point

    The view from Inspiration Point is more than worth the effort to get there. Good hiking boots; water, more water; a hat; sunscreen; possibly some food if you are taking the whole heart of the rocks trail.

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  • Inspiration Point Trail

    The Inspiration Point Trail is a 1/2 mile trail each way. It is much flatter than the Mushroom Rock Trail and is a good cool down and a chance to lower your heart rate. It also offers several great views. Good hiking boots; water, more water; a hat; sunscreen; possibly some food if you are taking the whole heart of the rocks trail.

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  • Mushroom Rock

    Here is a photo of Mushroom Rock the formation the trail gets its name from. Sorry it is not a better photo. Good hiking boots; water, more water; a hat; sunscreen; possibly some food if you are taking the whole heart of the rocks trail.

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Chiricahua National Monument Favorites

  • a river ran through it

    We arrived at Chiricahua National Monument very late afternoon and secured a spot at the campground which was as our friends had told us, quite a nice one. It was heavily treed for the Southwest so our first truly comfortable spot in our still short trip. A river ran through it and the sound was comforting. It would have been easy to set up camp...

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  • don't think twice, do it twice

    Saguaro sorted itself out well enough but the next morning I discovered I'd lost my car keys. I tore the car apart looking in vain and finally asked at the Visitor Center if the could call Chircahua to inquire for me about them. They nicely obliged and their park counterparts some 135 miles away confirmed that someone had turned in keys the...

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  • the Great Escape

    We were glad to be in our bags. It was such a great spot and perfect weather for camping. We could have stayed here a couple days but spending another night with our bitter buddy wasn't as appealing. We made a plan to get up early, pack up all our gear before our hopefully hungover late sleeping neighbor woke up, and hit one of the trails. We did...

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Explore Deeper into Chiricahua National Monument
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Map of Chiricahua National Monument

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